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Compassionate communities support those who are dying Compassionate communities support those who are dying

photo of Trevor Hancock

In his March 20th column, Trevor Hancock talks about "Compassionate Communities",a public health approach to palliative care that “takes the responsibility . . .  from a few highly trained specialists to a community that considers it ‘everybody’s business’”. read more...



Dr. Trevor Hancock, founder of the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, is Professor and Senior Scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. He writes a weekly column for the Times Colonist on issues relating to Healthy Communities.These columns are reprinted with the permission of Dr. Hancock.


Healthy corner stores – well, why not?
FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Nature is speaking – but are we listening?
JANUARY 30, 2017

“Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature,” says Trevor Hanconck. However, under President Trump, more Americans will believe that we can dominate nature, a belief that threatens our societies and communities around the world.  read more..

Local thinking and action on global issues
JANUARY 16, 2017

“Think globally, act locally” was one of the enduring slogans of the 1970’s environmental movement. But we need to think locally as well as act locally, and thus I am leading a series of local Conversations on Victoria as a One Planet region. read more

National inquiry is needed on opioid crisis
NOVEMBER 28, 2016

We are in the midst of an opioid drug crisis. This year, deaths from illicit drug overdoses in BC exceeded 600 to the end of October, and will likely approach 800 by year’s end...But we should not lose sight of a very important fact: “This crisis has its roots in the health care system”, as an October 2016 report from Toronto’s Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) bluntly puts it, describing the health care system as “the vector in this epidemic” read more

Cities must be part of the UN's Urban Agenda
OCTOBER 27, 2106

Last week I was in Quito, Ecuador, attending Habitat III, the UN’s global conference on urban development and housing, which is held every 20 years...The conference itself was a formal UN meeting, with national delegations in attendance. They agreed to a key global document, The New Urban Agenda (NUA), which provides an overall framework for how cities should develop in the next 20 years or more. read more

Bouncing forward to a healthier, just future
AUGUST15, 2016

The concept of resilience has received a lot of attention in recent years, perhaps because we face increasing challenges at all levels, from the personal to the global. Resilience is seen as an important way of responding to those challenges, or having the capacity to respond.

Reverance for nature is linked to our health
JULY 28, 2016

Every year, I engage the graduate students in my public health Masters class in a discussion of the determinants of health; what are the factors that contribute to health and disease? And every year, I ask them what is missing from the somewhat standard set of determinants in the literature. This year, as has often been the case in previous years, some of them have identified religion/spirituality as missing, which always makes for a lively discussion.

Food policy must address the issue of meat
JULY 11, 2016

It’s not a good time to be an Albertan. Not only is there growing opposition to the oil industry in general and the tarsands in particular, and to the pipelines needed to get their product to market, but their second iconic industry – beef cattle ranching – is also coming under attack

We need a health impact assessment of energy systems
JUNE 26, 2016

The use of vast amounts of energy is one of the defining characteristics of the industrial age...But our use of energy comes at a large and mainly unacknowledged health and economic cost.

Loss of biodiversity is a public health emergency
JUNE 22, 2016

Climate change is just one of several aspects of rapid global ecological change that threatens our health. The loss of biodiversity and the extinction of many animal and plant species is another.

Medical error is a public health emergency
JUNE 13, 2016

BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, recently declared a public health emergency because of an epidemic of deaths from opioid drug overdose...but it is one small part of a bigger problem that is much more deserving of the title ‘public health emergency’.

Unhealthy trade policy
MAY 1, 2016

Authors of a study published in the International Journal of Health Policy and Management of some of the likely health impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) conclude that “most of the concerns of the public health community raised during the negotiation process have not been addressed in the final TPP text”.

First, we must learn to say no
APR 11, 2016

The greatest challenge we face in the 21st century is to make the transition to a way of life that enables everyone on Earth to have a good quality of life, including of course good health, while living within the limits of the one small planet we call home. 

Rudolf Virchow and Kashechewan
MARCH 28, 2016

As George Santayana noted, those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. So it is with the statement last week by Dr. Gordon Green, Chief of Staff of the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, about the situation in the isolated Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario.

Trump’s supporters: poor, white, angry - and unhealthy
MARCH 21, 2016

Donald Trump’s supporters are often described as poor, white, poorly educated and angry. This is partly true (others also vote for Trump), but there is a related factor that has been less remarked upon, and that I believe is important: The death rate among poor, white middle-aged Americans is increasing.

Lessons from Brazil in democratic empowerment
MARCH 13, 2016

If empowerment is good for health, and if communities – particularly marginalized communities – can become empowered and effect change, then the question becomes: Are governments enabling empowerment, or obstructing it?

Key lessons for Healthy Cities
FEBRUARY 15, 2016

At the Urban Thinkers Campus on Healthy Cities in Kuching, Sarawak, there were ideas and lessons from all over the world about how to create healthier cities.

Cities and development in the Anthropocene
FEBRUARY 8, 2016

We live at a time of two great – and linked – transitions. The first is that about a decade ago we became an urban species, with more than half of humanity now living in urban areas.

It all began in Lundu
FEBRUARY 1, 2016

Fifty years ago this coming August I arrived in Lundu, a small town about 50 miles west of Kuching, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak in north Borneo.

Profiting from disease is wrong
JANUARY 26, 2016

One of the problems of putting the economy at the centre of our policy process is that decision-makers prioritise economic development over human development.

Memo to Health Ministers: Turn the system on its head
JANUARY 18, 2016

Canada’s Health Ministers are meeting in Vancouver today and tomorrow. All indications are that they are going to be talking a lot about health care and funding, and very little about health itself.

Your teeth are not part of your body
JANUARY 11, 2016

It may come as a surprise, but the federal and provincial governments in Canada seem to believe that your teeth are not part of your body.

Let’s put healthy food on conference table
JANUARY 6, 2016

Canada’s health ministers will meet in Vancouver on Jan. 20. It is good to know we have a federal government that will engage with the provinces on health care. Let’s hope they will engage on . . .

Equity, sustainability needed for health
DECEMBER 30, 2015

Thirty-five years ago, I identified what I believed to be the key principles of public health. At the time I called them ecological sanity and social justice. Today we would say sustainability . . .

Peace on Earth — and especially at home
DECEMBER 23, 2015

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace — “Peace on Earth and goodwill to all mankind.” Indeed, 101 years ago, in the early days of the First World War, peace did break out briefly in the . . .

The turning of the year, coming of the light
DECEMBER 16, 2015

On Monday, the sun reaches its southernmost point and starts its long slow trek back to the north, heading for the summer solstice. For thousands of years, throughout the northern hemisphere, this . . .

Few Canadian hospitals are ‘baby-friendly’
DECEMBER 9, 2015

The evidence of the health benefits of breastfeeding is overwhelming. UNICEF reports that, globally, optimal breastfeeding to the age of two “has the greatest potential impact on child survival of . . .

Health-care facilities reduce harm to planet
DECEMBER 2, 2015

Climate change and health care
NOVEMBER 30, 2015

In this week of the Paris climate change summit, it is worth considering the health-care system’s contribution to climate change and how it can be reduced. Health care, not surprisingly, is a bit. . .

Can our hospitals be healing environments?
NOVEMBER 23, 2015

In my previous column, I mentioned two key questions that — sadly — always elicit giggles, if not outright laughter: Can I get a good night’s sleep in your hospital, and do you have the healthiest . . .

Hospitals should be model healthy settings
NOVEMBER 18, 2015

An important part of my work concerns the “settings” in which we lead our lives. Settings are both physical and social spaces; they are the main “nodes” in our lives: home, school, workplace, park,. . .

Let’s make some noise about all that noise
NOVEMBER 11, 2015

This summer was unusual for us — we could actually sit out in our garden quite often without being driven indoors by power saws, drills, hammering, motor mowers or, worst of all, leaf-blowers. . . .

We need to measure what matters in B.C.
NOVEMBER 4, 2015

Management consultants, government and business schools like to point out that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” But that raises questions: What if the thing you measure doesn’t . . .

How we keep Canada healthy is a great story
OCTOBER 28, 2015

CBC-TV is airing Keeping Canada Alive, a series full of the usual dramatic life-and-death stories of health care, as well as some segments about family practice and home care. But nothing about . . .

Beyond voting, democracy is good for health
OCTOBER 21, 2015

Is democracy related to health? Rudolf Virchow certainly thought so more than 150 years ago, in what was then Prussia. Asked to investigate an outbreak of typhus in the impoverished mining . . .

Push parties for health, human development
OCTOBER 14, 2015

This series of columns is about protecting and promoting the health of the population and preventing disease, injury and disability. Recently, I have identified key issues that are important to the. . .

We should lift the siege on public health
OCTOBER 7, 2015

I have worked in public health for most of my adult life, and am proud of my chosen profession. Not to be confused — as it often is — with publicly funded health care, public health is focused on . . .

The ‘Great War’ on drugs: Time for re-think
SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

In this centenary of the Great War, it is worth considering the lessons to be learned as we contemplate the current war on drugs. One of the distinctive features of the First World War was that . . .

Agriculture policy should include health
SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

Given that food is one of the fundamental determinants of health, one would think that health would be a cornerstone of food and agriculture policy. Think again. About 20 years ago, I did some . . .

Good health requires environmental security
SEPTEMBER 9, 2015

Security has emerged as an important issue in this election, but the understanding of it by the main parties is very narrow. It is focused largely on policing, criminal justice and the military. . . .

Policies should focus on basic needs
SEPTEMBER 2, 2015

If governments were to put human development at the centre of their policies, how might things change? A good place to start is with Maslow’s Hierarchy. The American psychologist Abraham Maslow . . .

Human well-being should come first
AUGUST 26, 2015

We know a great deal about what makes people healthy, yet too often, governments put human well-being below other priorities, largely on ideological grounds or because of pressure from powerful . . .

Hope for our health lies in local initiatives
AUGUST 12, 2015

It can be hard to remain optimistic amidst all the bad news about our accelerating ecological problems. But as a purveyor of that doom and gloom, I feel much the same as Harvard professor of . . .

Sustainable development benefits our health
AUGUST 5, 2015

If, as I have argued in my previous column, unsustainable development is bad for health, then is the converse true? There is a strong case that in order to be healthy, communities need to be . . .

Accelerating changes are bad for health
JULY 29, 2015

The recent report of the Lancet Commission on Planetary Health is further confirmation that our present system of development is not only ecologically unsustainable, but harmful to health. . . .

Planetary health is the 21st-century challenge
JULY 22, 2015

At a Beijing conference in 2013, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, proposed the concept of “planetary health” as a challenging issue for . . .

More should be done to improve male health
JULY 15, 2015

A decade ago at the annual meeting of the Public Health Association of B.C., I gave a talk on health inequalities. 

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